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“[An all-white group] is essential to creating the atmosphere of security, safety and trust needed for participants to feel able to express, recognize and change racist attitudes and behaviors. In addition to fostering trust, the all-white group encourages the white students’ racial identification. One of the important steps that whites must go through in learning about racism and their role in combating it is to recognize themselves as white. While… ethnic minorities are forced by their racial oppression to be aware of themselves as members of racial groups, whites generally have the luxury to feel ‘normal,’ not aware of their whiteness.” —  Echols, I., Gabel, C., Landerman, D., & Reyes, M. Ethnicity and Race, 1988

Emphasis mine

For more information see Center For the Study of White America

Persons are known not by the intellect alone, nor by principles alone, but only by love. It is when we love the other, the enemy, that we obtain from God the key to an understanding of who he is and who we are. It is only this realization that can open to us the real nature of our duty, and of right action.

To shut out the person and to refuse to consider him as a person, as another self, we resort to the impersonal “law” and “nature.” That is to say we block off the reality of the other, we cut the intercommunication of our nature and his nature, and we consider only our own nature with its rights, its claims, its demands. In effect, however, we are considering our nature in the concrete and his nature in the abstract. And we justify the evil we do to our brother because he is no longer a brother, he is merely an adversary, an accused, an evil being.

To restore communication, to see our oneness of nature with him, and to respect his personal rights, integrity, his worthiness of love, we have to see ourselves as accused along with him, condemned to death along with him, sinking into the abyss with him, and needing, with him, the ineffable gift of grace and mercy to be saved.

The basic thing in Christian ethics is to look at the person and not at the natureBecause when we consider “nature” we consider the general, the theoretical, and forget the concrete, the individual, the personal reality of the one confronting us. Hence we can see him not as our other self, not as Christ, but as our demon, our evil beast, our nightmare.”

Thomas Merton. Seeds of Destruction (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1961): 254-255.

Emphasis mine

June 2009